Lawmakers call on government to reject US president’s remarks on withdrawal.
UK politicians on Tuesday criticized US President Joe Biden’s remarks on the situation in Afghanistan and in particular his defense of the sudden withdrawal of US troops that opened the doors to a stunning Taliban military victory.
Lawmakers took to Twitter to make clear their frustrations towards the US leader, with one describing Biden’s speech on Monday was a wakeup call to his allies and stressing that the UK, EU, and other NATO members will have to take on the onus of intervening in future humanitarian crises without the lead and support of the US.
“After (Biden’s) speech last night, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee,” Gavin Barwell, the former chief of staff, said on Twitter, adding: “The US will remain a key ally where its vital interests are involved, but neither Democrats nor Republicans any longer believe the US should be the world’s policeman.”
“The lesson for Europeans is clear. Whoever is president, the US is unlikely to offer the same support that it used to in parts of the world where its vital interests are not involved. Europeans are going to have to develop the capability to intervene without US support. That’s not going to be cheap. And the EU and Britain are going to have to work out how to cooperate on this because we face the same threats,” Barwell noted.
Biden was reprimanded for allegedly blaming the former Afghan government and its military forces for preventing the unstoppable Taliban advance through the country and the subsequent fall of its capital Kabul, with one describing him as a “total blithering idiot” and as a twin to former US President Donald Trump, who signed a peace deal with the armed group.
Former ministers labelled the president’s speech as “the end of an American era,” describing Biden’s comments as a “failure of statecraft” and his withdrawal as a “death sentence” and the “detriment of all of us.”
“The world just got a little bit smaller after that statement. Very protectionist. Only concerned about terrorist threats on US soil and no real acknowledgment of the devastation left behind in Afghanistan.”
According to MPs, constituents, with many of them former servicemen or families of the slain in Afghanistan, had been contact with them and related their “heart-rending” stories of their experiences with the two-decade war in the country as well as those still in there and possibly in danger.
Taliban advance unheard of
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday said the collapse of the Afghan government, its military, and the Taliban’s rapid reconquest of the country was impossible to predict, arguing that “no one saw this coming.”
Raab made the comments following his return from vacation during which Afghanistan’s capital Kabul fell in dramatic fashion to the Taliban and its airport was engulfed in chaos and anarchy as foreigners and Afghan nationals scrambled to leave the country.
“The truth is, across the world people were caught by surprise. I haven’t spoken to an international interlocutor, including countries in the region over the last week, who hasn’t been surprised,” the foreign secretary said in an interview with Sky News.
“All of those factors have been very fluid. But no one saw this coming. Of course we’d have taken action if we had. We saw a very swift change in the dynamics. And of course, this has been part and parcel of the withdrawal of western troops, but it’s also been the approach of the Taliban, and of course, it’s been a test for the Afghan security forces,” he added.
The Taliban’s offensive began in earnest in May this year when Biden announced a full withdrawal of US troops. The armed group retook a majority of the countryside but in the last week and a half established its control over all major towns and cities in a rapid yet stunning military offensive.